People as Brands

7 Nov

Currently in my Intro to Business class, we are learning about marketing. One of the types we touched on is “person marketing”. This could be anyone from celebrities to politicians to athletes. I had never thought of it like this before, but people really do market themselves and are essentially their own personal brands. Through product endorsements, publicity, and other media outlets, they portray whatever aspect or image they want to of themselves. The importance of person branding is shown in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians when Kris was considering changing her last name from Jenner back to Kardashian. The clip below shows the scene.

Kim also decided to keep her last name Kardashian when she married Kris Humphries for business purposes. This shows how having a unified brand as a person is just as important as an actual brand for companies and products.

What is the message the Kardashian brand portrays? I think they seek to be portrayed as a closely knit family that is real, beautiful, and successful. They use their t.v. show to portray this as well as through attending events, doing endorsements, and through magazine and other features articles.

Another celebrity example is Scarlett Johansson. Her print ads are numerous and all feature her as glamourous and sensuous. Following are some examples.

Thinking about this makes me wonder what I would want my brand to focus on if I were famous. What would yours say about you?



Color War

28 Oct

     YSL vs. Louboutin          

Recently, Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent over the color red. YSL has a red shoe that is also colored red on the sole, which Louboutin has contested infringes on his trademark on red shoe soles. The court decision was in favor of YSL and the question of whether colors can be trademarked has now been brought into question. Louboutin has appealed the case in hopes that the decision will be overturned. Tiffany & Co. has recently just put its two cents in arguing that color can be trademarked. Tiffany’s  has a lot at stake with this turn of events since it has a trademark on a shade of blue.

This case got me thinking about the importance of color to these company’s images. Tiffany & Co. is extremely recognizable with its light turquoise/aqua packaging: blue boxes wrapped in white ribbon bows that come in matching bags. I myself have said before that I won’t get married unless my engagement ring comes in a blue box. This to me shows how well Tiffany’s has branded itself. Their shade of blue has become synonymous with their name and brand. When I see that blue, I think of glamour, romance, beauty, perfection, love, and security. It has an emotional appeal to me which is in essence what every brand should seek to do. Connect with your audience on an emotional level. If you can make them feel something toward your brand then you will be successful. The movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s shows this ideal in action. The opening scene shows the main character Holly Golightly, played by Audrey Hepburn, gazing into the windows of Tiffany’s as she wears an iconic chic black Givenchy dress and eats her breakfast in the early morning hours of New York City. Later on in the movie we find out why Tiffany’s appeals to her. Here is the scene:

A company needs to distinguish itself through its branding. You need an iconic symbol or logo or color that sets you apart from the competition and helps the consumers remember you by. Once you are able to attach an emotion to this identifier and appeal to your consumers that way, they will always feel that way when confronted with it. It becomes less about the product and more about brand loyalty.



26 Oct

These are the most delicious cheese sticks ever. They are from Mad Mushroom and have been a favorite of mine since Freshman year of college. However, I may no longer be ordering them after the recent encounter I had with Mad Mush.

Until this year, I haven’t had a car on campus so whenever the craving would strike I just ordered delivery. This past week there was a special deal for a large cheese stick for only $6.99 so of course my roommate and I couldn’t pass it up. Since I was working in Lafayette at the mall that night I decided to pick it up on the way home. This was my first time ever going in to the physical location and frankly I was appalled by what I encountered. Upon walking in, I approached the cash register counter that separates the entry room from the kitchen. I patiently stood there for several minutes without acknowledgement from any of the staff. Pizza boxes were stacked on the floor, the place was a mess, and there was dough sitting opened with flies landing on it. Now, I have worked in a pizza place before and I know that there may not be the highest standards, but really?! This is disgusting. The pizzas that were done were not being kept in a heater either. It also appeared that there was no dress code or rules about appearance. The employee that finally approached me looked like he hadn’t shaved in days. I didn’t get a “sorry for keeping you waiting” or anything of the kind. He didn’t even say thank you.. I’m sure they were having a busy night, especially with the deal going on, but it takes only a few seconds to acknowledge and thank a customer. Also, if you are going to be showing all of your customers your kitchen and allow them to see the operation, at least make it presentable! If it is going to look unkempt and disorderly, then you need to figure out a way to block off the kitchen. All I have to say is they are lucky most of their customers order delivery and do not see how they really operate.


Delivering Happiness

16 Oct

Today I finished reading a book by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. It is called Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Tony is really revolutionary in his approach to running and building a business. He puts the customers (both internal and external) at the center. Focusing on fostering positive relationships with vendors, employees, and shareholders is what helps make the company so successful. He has created a company where core values are more than just a few sentences in the employee manual. Their values are embedded in everything they do and is what defines the Zappos culture. Tony has applied principles from research on happiness to the structure of the company. This amazes me. Here is a CEO who is constantly trying to improve his company and make it a place where the employees enjoy coming to work and enjoy what they are doing. While reading through their culture book, which is comprised of employee views on the culture and company, it became clear to me that Tony has achieved the unthinkable. His employees genuinely like coming in to work every day. A lot of them said that their co-workers were family to them. If only every company could be like this. I only hope that when I join the workforce after college I can become part of a company where I love my job, co-workers, and boss. I feel that it is all too rare in today’s world, which is really disheartening. I understand that making money is important, but I find it sad when people’s lives revolve solely around it. Everyone needs a greater purpose in life. The same is true for businesses. Tony Hsieh seeks to use Zappos to encourage other business owners to follow his model to create more happiness in the workplace and the world. To me, that is inspiring.



10 Oct

One thing I love about going home is shopping at Woodfield Mall. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I moved away to school and quickly discovered that most malls aren’t anything like Woodfield. So, as I was home for fall break this weekend, I of course had to make the requisite shopping excursion. Now that I am taking this Consumer Behavior class and keeping a blog on my observations, I am much more aware while I am shopping. I am noticing things about stores that I have never noticed before. And frankly, many stores really need to step up their game. Retailers need to consider what impression their customers are getting of their store. I was really appalled that when I went into The Loft I was not greeted or acknowledged at all. There were only a few customers present and the salespeople were just walking around straightening and yet never once even said hello. It is common courtesy to greet customers. After a few laps around the store, I left. I am not going to give a retailer my business if they are going to not make me feel welcome.

One store I must say that I was impressed by was JcPenney. I was looking for a pair of heels for interviews and one of the salespeople approached me almost immediately and began to help me find different sizes in various shoes. He was incredibly friendly and we had a nice conversation. I felt like I was a guest and that my business was really appreciated. He even walked me downstairs and showed me where to apply when I expressed an interest. Maybe it was because he is making commission that he showed such good customer service. Either way, more companies need to stress to their front line employees how important customer service really is. It is not that difficult to do, just be friendly and helpful.

Another store that left an impression on me was Akira Shoes. It is fairly new to Woodfield, so this was only my second time shopping there. A sales associate there took a sale sign and stood on a box in the store window dancing with it. It was really very comical. It caught the attention of everyone passing by the store and some people even stopped to dance too. This tactic, while probably completely improvised, was a great way to get attention and show the store’s fun environment. Retailers need to consider what impression their customers are currently getting of their store and what impression they wish to portray and synchronize them.


Hi. My name is Lily, and I’m a shopaholic.

30 Sep

Whenever I don’t feel like doing homework, FX saves me by having a How I Met Your Mother marathon on. Which is why I’ve been immobile on my couch for the past two hours. The last episode featured Lily divulging her secret shopaholic tendencies to Robin. She has 15 credit cards and a huge amount of credit card debt that she has kept secret from everyone until now. This is all the byproduct of her shopaholic tendencies. She is addicted to buying things (shoes and clothes in particular). There are flashback clips of her buying shoes from one store on several different occasions, all of which are when she is upset about something. This strikes a chord with me since I know that I have an emotional relationship with shopping too. It isn’t called “retail therapy” for nothing after all. I know that when I go shopping I instantly feel better when I buy things, and when I leave the mall with nothing I feel like I wasted my day. I think this resonates with a lot of people (women in particular). What is it about buying that makes us feel better? Do we equate “stuff” with happiness? What contributes to this? After pondering questions like these, it seems like this attitude of buying and acquiring things and linking that to positive feelings is a result of our culture. T.v. shows promote it (Sex and the City.. another guilty pleasure of mine), advertisements endorse it (if I buy a Fiat, I will be as happy, beautiful, and successful as J.Lo), and our economy is supported by it. We live in a world that revolves around commerce, with retail being a big part of it. Through mass media we have been brainwashed into thinking that objects are status symbols that we can identify ourselves by. We are happy when we find another item with which we can promote our self-image.

Watch the episode here to see what I’m talking about:


Your own personal fashion boutique

20 Sep

I mentioned a few entries before how social media is starting to be used for commerce purposes. There is a new website that takes this to a whole other level. This website is called Shop My Label and the beta version was launched yesterday. It is a website in which anyone can set up their own online fashion boutique using brands and merchandise from over 1,000 different brands. You market your boutique through your own social networking profiles like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. This is a way for brands to lure in new potential customers. People viewing these boutiques are the friends (or followers) of the boutique “shopkeeper” and therefore transfer their trust over to the brands displayed. The retailers and brands control the product prices, but the shopkeeper controls what merchandise to feature in their shop. The shopkeeper receives 5% commission on each item sold and other benefits when they recruit more individuals to set up shop. The shipping is also free. I think this is a genius idea. The article I read in Women’s Wear Daily that introduced this website said that this model is not completely new. However, this is the first time I’m hearing of anything like this and I love the idea. I consider myself to be fairly involved with social media and fashion and I am considering opening up shop! I’ve actually requested my invite. Even if I don’t sell anything, I can open up my dream shop online (for free!). I’ll let you know how it goes.